What Exactly is Schizophrenia?
A Complex Disorder: Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia affects about one percent of the population, or two million people in the United States alone, and can affect children as young as six years of age. It affects men more often than women. This mental disorder is characterized by problems with a person's thoughts, behaviors, and social abilities and is quite debilitating, although it ranges in severity from person to person. Although it is not passed down directly from generation to generation, genetic factors are known to contribute to a vulnerability to the disorder and environmental factors do come into play as well. Basically, it is a very complex disorder that isn't completely understood, even by the medical community. There is no known cure for schizophrenia, but many people find relief with certain medications and counseling.
The term "schizophrenia" has been used since 1911, but the symptoms of the disorder have been described throughout history, including in ancient Egyptian, Hindu, Chinese, Greek, and Roman writings.This mental disorder is largely misunderstood by the public, so I will attempt to explain it and perhaps demystify it here on this page.
Photo Credit: roland, via Creative Commons
Symptoms of Schizophrenia
Symptoms that people experience differ from person to person, but may include some of the following:
- withdrawal, disinterest, not speaking
- trouble with concentration
- reduced emotion
- bizarre behaviors
- delusions (beliefs that have no basis in reality)
- hallucinations (hearing, seeing, tasting, feeling, or smelling things that aren't present in reality)
- catatonia (in a daze or stupor)
- disorganized speech and/or behavior
- abnormal movements or no movement
Symptoms of acute schizophrenia involve psychosis, or being out of touch with reality. For example, a person who is psychotic may hear voices or sounds that are not real, see things that are not present, or feel imaginary bugs crawling on his or her skin.
Video That Does a Great Job of Explaining Schizophrenia
There Are 5 Types of Schizophrenia
Paranoid - The patient is preoccupied with one or more delusions or hallucinations but does not fit into the "disorganized" category of schizophrenia.
Disorganized - The patient has disorganized behavior and speech and/or flat or inappropriate affect, but does not fit into the "catatonic" category.
Catatonic - The patients exhibits one of more of these symptoms: difficulty moving, resistance to moving, excessive movement, abnormal movements, repeats what other say or do.
Undifferentiated - The patient is having or has had episodes of two or more of the following but does not fit into another category: delusions, hallucinations, catatonic behavior, disorganized speech and/or behavior.
Residual - This is a less severe form of schizophrenia. The patient does not experience delusions or paranoia, but does exhibit some negative symptoms, such as withdrawal or disinterest.
Famous Individuals That Have or Had Schizophrenia
(Just a few of many)
John Nash - American mathematician. The movie "A Beautiful Mind" was based on him.
Syd Barrett - Guitarist for Pink Floyd.
Lionel Aldridge - Professional American football player who played for the Green Bay Packers in the 1960s.
Peter Green - Guitarist for Fleetwood Mac.
Mary Todd Lincoln - Wife of the 16th president, Abraham Lincoln.
Spread LOVE, Truth, and Acceptance
I do not suffer with schizophrenia, but I do have bipolar disorder and understand a thing or two about stigma and myths surrounding the topic of mental disorders. It is important to understand that many ideas we have about people with schizophrenia are false. Rather, they are merely myths passed from person to person. One of these myths is that people with schizophrenia are dangerous and out-of-control. When treated, a person who has schizophrenia is no more dangerous than your average Joe Shmoe.
If you know someone who has schizophrenia or if you suffer from it yourself, be an advocate! Fight for the person's rights and quality treatment. Surround the person with love, respect, and acceptance. Educate yourself about schizophrenia and learn how and when to seek appropriate treatment. Know the symptoms of an oncoming psychotic episode and have a plan of action. Realize that sometimes things will get out of your hands, so have a plan for when you will call the doctor, when to seek emergency assistance, and so forth.